Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

"Removing the danger in a business way": The history and memory of Quakertown, Denton, Texas
by Stallings, Chelsea, M.A., University of North Texas, 2015, 133; 10034749
Abstract (Summary)

Overall this thesis analyzes a strain of the white supremacist vision in Denton, Texas via a case study of a former middle-class black neighborhood. This former community, Quakertown, was removed by white city officials and leaders in the early 1920s and was replaced with a public city park. Nearly a century later, the story of Quakertown is celebrated in Denton and is remembered through many sites of memory such as a museum, various texts, and several city, county, and state historical markers. Both the history and memory of Quakertown reveal levels of dominating white supremacy in Denton, ranging from harmless to violent.

Chapters 2, 3, and 4 focus on the history of Quakertown. I begin chapter 2 by examining as many details as possible that reveal the middle-class nature of the black community and its residents. Several of these details show that Quakertown residents not only possessed plentiful material items, but they also had high levels of societal involvement both within their community as well as around Denton. Despite being a self-sufficient and successful community, Quakertown residents were not immune to the culture of racial fear that existed in Denton, which was common to countless towns and communities across the South during the Jim Crow era. I identify several factors that contributed to this culture of fear on the national level and explore how they were regularly consumed by Denton citizens in the 1910s and 1920s.

After establishing Quakertown and the racist society in which it thrived, in chapter 3 I then examine the various sects of what I term the “white coalition,” such as local politicians, prominent citizens, and city clubs and organizations, who came together to construct a reason to remove the black community out of fear because of its proximity to the white women’s college, the College of Industrial Arts. I then look at the steps they took that secured the passage of the bond referendum that would allow them to legally remove the black neighborhood.

Chapter 4 largely focuses on the ways in which the white coalition ensured the black community was transferred from Quakertown to its new community on the outskirts of town, Solomon Hill, from 1922-1923. These ways overwhelmingly included outright racial violence or the repeated threat of it. I then briefly describe the quality of Solomon Hill in the years after the relocation. I also summarize how and why the story of Quakertown was lost over time–among both white and black citizens–and conclude with the discovery of a Quakertown artifact in 1989, which initiated the renaissance period of Quakertown’s memory.

In chapters 5 and 6 I switch gears and analyze the memory of Quakertown today via sites of memory. I begin by providing a brief historiography of New South memory studies in chapter 5. This review is important before delving into the specifics of the memory of Quakertown, because 1920s Denton was a microcosm of the New South, specifically in terms of race relations and dominating white supremacist ideals. I explore some of the different techniques utilized by memory historians to evaluate how and why the white supremacist vision dominated the southern region during the Jim Crow era; I, in turn, then use those same techniques to reveal how the white supremacist vision in Denton dominated at the same time.

In chapter 6 I provide in-depth analysis of the most prominent sites of memory in Denton that, today, are dedicated to the memory of Quakertown. Collective analysis of these sites reveals levels of white exploitation, blatant omissions, and general misuse surrounding the story of the black removal and experience. I conclude my thesis by stressing that although the white vision today is shaped differently than it was during Jim Crow, it nonetheless still exists in Denton today, as evidenced in the treatment of the sites of Quakertown’s memory.

Indexing (document details)
School: University of North Texas
Department: History
School Location: United States -- Texas
Source: MAI 55/04M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: African American Studies, Black history, American history
Keywords: City Beautiful movements, Gender roles, Historical memory, New South, Reconstruction, Texas
Publication Number: 10034749
ISBN: 978-1-339-53844-0
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